Biosignatures & Paleobiology

Oxygen in Earth's Atmosphere Before Great Oxidation Event

By Keith Cowing
November 3, 2007

NAI’s Astrobiology Drilling Program supported researchers in 2004 to obtain subsurface core samples from the Hamersley Basin in Western Australia. Those samples, representing the time just before the Great Oxidation Event, have been analyzed, and two research papers detailing the results (Anbar, et al. and Kaufman, et al.) appear in September 28, 2007 issue of Science. Both groups found unexpected, correlated changes that reveal the presence of small but significant amounts of O2 in the environment 2.5 billion years ago, ~50-100 milion years before the Great Oxidation Event, and a shift from lower O2 abundance prior to that time. [Source: NAI Newsletter]

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